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Russia Triumphant over Host Canada

Published: May 20, 2008 (Issue # 1374)


Getting a Canadian to swallow his or her pride after a monumental world hockey championship loss on home soil and to look at the bigger picture is a tough task indeed. Let this Canadian living in St. Petersburg then not wallow in misery after a game fairly played to write on the broader theme of sports and society. Forgive me if I wax a bit poetic in the shadow of defeat.

Canada and Russia have over the years shared a great hockey legacy with both a fierce rivalry and sense of sportsmanship that highlights the positive role sport can play in international relations. When Russians think of Canada one of the first things they speak of is hockey. There is a shared understanding through hockey among our two northern nations with legends and heroes that youngsters have looked up to as role models. An IIHF Centennial All-Star Team was named this year with one Canadian, Wayne Gretzky (the great one), and four Russians, Sergei Makarov, Valery Kharlamov, Vladislav Tretyak and Vyacheslav Fetisov.

Though sporting events sometimes reach such a fevered pitch that hooligans react with violence outside of the stadiums and arenas, one message is that competition does not have to be played in a spirit of conflict, but with a sense of mutual respect for the game and for the opponent. It is the triumphalism of world power that obscures victory in athletic competitions after the winners and losers are awarded their just due. Let us hope the new-found nationalism in Russia after celebrations on the streets of Russia following Zenit St. Petersburgs and now the national hockey teams victory, does not extend to the realm of seeking a return to super-power world-status in an unhealthy way. In sports as in society, sooner or later ones ego is always subdued.

Watching the tournament, the semifinals and the final, I can say that the best team won. Russia is back at the pinnacle of world hockey once again. The final was a great game, really a wonderful finish for the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Canadas Prime Minster, Stephen Harper was of course on hand in Quebec, anxiously watching the events unfold. Yet there were Russian flags and Ru-ssi-a chants echoing through the stadium as well. There was no animosity or fighting among the spectators, just a closely fought match with a rollercoaster of goals and lead changes.

Hockey, it is said, is almost a religion for some people in Canada. This is a hockey mad-country, said Alexander Ovechkin, one of the most talented players in the game today; an intimidating force on ice. His 65 goals in the NHL were the first time a player scored more than 60 goals since 1995-1996.

However, the one who tamed the hockey-mad Canadians was Ilya Kovalchuk. God was on our side a little more than them, claimed Kovalchuk.

Scoring his first goal of the tournament to send the game into overtime and then the overtime winner, Kovalchuk may be the keenest interpreter of the divine inspiration of the current epoch for loyal Russian hockey fans.

It may be fitting for the Canadians to be humbled in front of their home crowd. But not only was this a symbolic event for world hockey, it also sets off events marking the 400th birthday of the city of Quebec, which hosted the final. What better way than at the hockey rink for Canada to be a generous host?

They say pride comes before the fall. Lets hope this is springtime for Russian sports that will lead to a blossoming of talent in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games and then onwards to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

We all know that the Olympics are the measuring stick... If youre talking about supremacy in hockey, you talk about the Olympics, noted Canadian Coach Ken Hitchcock. The U.S.S.R won an Olympic gold medal in hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games in Canada. Lets see what happens in Vancouver 2010 and then Sochi 2014! Bring it on!

Gregory Sandstrom is a PhD student in Sociology at St. Petersburg State University, sports fan of all sorts and Olympic Games guest correspondent.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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